Interview: Oxygen Thief Talks Genre-Fusing Discography and DIY Drive

Listening to Fort Collins, CO-based Oxygen Thief, created by OXXXY (the moniker for Peter Constas), is an immersive experience, fusing noise, techno, punk, and jazz, the project boasting nine albums and a collection of singles, all exploring themes of queerness, heartbreak, struggles with mental illness, and liminality.

Oxygen Thief is an exercise in limitation and the DIY-attitude, with OXXXY continually building on his previous releases with new ideas and the tools at his disposable.

New Noise caught up with OXXXY to chat about his growing discography, the project, and the road ahead.

What initially got you started making music?
Ever since I was a kid, I have been addicted to music. If I’m not doing something that requires human interaction, or for my ears to be free, I’m listening to music. What made me want to start producing was so I could listen to something else for a change. Honestly, the only reason I produce is for my own enjoyment.

If other people like it, that’s awesome! However, I’ve always made music by myself, for myself.

Your music tends to mix a lot of ideas, varying samples, genres—where do you pull the inspiration from, in regard to how these songs come about?
Each album I’ve released is basically a product of my environment at the time. I focus on a process different from my other releases and try to perfect it; or at least when the process fails. The process usually has to do with some kind of limitation in my equipment such as: no affordable DAW, lack of a CDJ or lack of reliable recording software.

Instead of trying to hide those limitations, I try to focus on them so they become a part of the style for the album. Much like jazz musicians, if I mess up once, it’s a fuck up, but if I mess up twice, and then a third time, it’s ‘avant-garde’ or ‘experimental.’

The genre of the album depends on what kind of music I’m listening to at the time. My samples mostly come from bargain bins at record stores. Whether it’s some weird conservative rant about LBJ, call girls from the 1950s talking about sex work, or the occasional hypnotist, I use these vinyls to add a layer of satire to my tracks.

Other samples come from a broken radio I found at Goodwill or from cassettes I also find at thrift shops. It’s insane the kind of stuff some might see as crap but I see wicked samples.

Oxygen Thief

Something that instantly drew me in was the general online vibe you’ve created for Oxygen Thief. Did you have any influences regarding the image and sound of Oxygen Thief?
My style is (I guess) goth femboy. I dress like this every day, so I try to be as genuine as possible with my online presence. Like I said before, I make music for myself, so my online presence is basically a bunch of inside jokes that only I and a close-knit group of friends would understand.

I want anyone who is interested in me or my music to see the progress I’ve made both in myself and my producing. You can still listen to my first release ever, (Spectogram), which is probably the worst-produced music you’ll ever listen to. My queerness and bisexuality are very important to me, so I try to offer images that champion those kinds of identities. It should be obvious that my music is not made for straight people, but they can listen if they want to.

You’ve released a number of themed albums, or albums, that go along with holidays. Are you planning any upcoming releases in this fashion, or otherwise, that you can tease?
I went through a really traumatic breakup this past December (on my birthday, no less), so I really want to release my breakup album this Halloween. However, I still need to buy a mic and fix my hard-drive, so I don’t want to promise anything.

What my listeners can expect, though, is a release on Halloween and a release either on April Fool’s or 4/20. For example, MANIK PANIK is a good April Fool’s album; ALL HOLLOW NOT EVEN is a Halloween album, and Sleepy Time Snooze Jam is a nice ambient album I released on 4/20. There’s a little secret joke within Sleepy Time Snooze Jam for those who actually listen to the whole thing.

What do you hope people get out of listening to your music?
I don’t know, some kind of enjoyment? I honestly have never expected people to listen to my music, but I hope that my audience understands that I’m doing my best. I’m not making aimless noise just for my own enjoyment (which is rad if you have that kind of confidence), but I do really have the listener in mind when I’m producing. It’s just that those thoughts take second priority to what sounds cool to me. If you like noise, techno, hip-hop, ambient, and jazz like me, I hope you find some kind of connection with my music.

Otherwise, sit back and relax because eventually I’ll produce something that you will like.

Where do you see your artistry and music heading in the future? Is there anything specific you want to explore more of?
I practice bass and guitar everyday, so I really want to make more music that has more instrumentation besides my clearance synths. I know that I will be making music ’til the day I die, so besides that, I hope my future is bright.

I’m still pretty young and don’t want to focus on making music my career, but I want to focus on improving my sound and keep producing tracks that I’m proud of. I bet in two years I’m going to hate CRUSH and roll my eyes whenever Sleepy Time Snooze Jam comes on shuffle.

Until then, I think they’re really solid projects!

Take a listen to “WRIT” from Oxygen Thief’s CRUSH here:

For more from Oxygen Thief, find him on Bandcamp and Instagram

Photos courtesy of Oxygen Thief

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